"Fame" comes to Alameda
Twenty-six students from Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School have come together to perform a musical story about a very different school — New York's High School of the Performing Arts — "Fame."
Once the remake of the film "Fame" came out, Didi Kubicek, who teaches drama at Saint Joseph, realized that prospective audiences would be curious about the original play. She saw to it that her school reserved performance permission quickly before another nearby school applied for it.
The students portrayed in this musical have the same sorts of hopes and problems other high school student have, but with one exception: Every student has a dream of becoming a professional performer. There are dancers, instrumentalists and actors. In one dance using almost all the characters, each group strongly maintains that his profession is the hardest job in the world.
One dancer, Tyrone Jackson (Ben Palacios), is a student who brings major trouble to classes like English, and even dance. An English teacher (Helen Romero) realizes that Tyrone's behavior is triggered by his inability to read. Working with him alone, using as a text Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," she ultimately reverses his problems.
Like teenagers everywhere, young people are attracted to one another. Instrumentalist Schlomo Metzenbaum (Joseph Eusebio) is shyly attracted to a lovely dancer, Carmen Diaz (Imani Carter-Sanchez). But Carmen's hope of becoming professional is severely threatened by her addiction to drugs — an addiction she is on the way to overcoming thanks to help from Schlomo.
Even stronger than the plot lines is the show's dancing choreographed by Bryant Cash-Welch. Cash-Welch is a professional dancer who has performed in New York as well as other cities. His "Fame" dancers must move as one person, with agility. Some cast members have been dancing since the age of 5, while others have not danced at all. Cash-Welch has all moving with zest.
Librarian Jennifer Dlugosh, in a "Fame"-like manner, fulfills her own dream by acting as the show's general artistic director.
Dlugosh was a member of a competitive theatre group at Chabot College that won a silver medal in competition. Since then she missed theatre, and at Fresno Pacific University majored in Education and Libraries Technologies.
Her high school teacher, Kubicek, knew of Dlugosh's theatrical background and asked her if she would like to assist in producing a play. Dlugosh did this for five years, eventually taking over primary directing responsibilities last year for "Damn Yankees."
Music lovers will find great pleasure in this multifaceted story about young people whose excitement lies in a future of performing arts.
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